If you’ve ever taken a good look at your outdoor air conditioning unit, you may have noticed a small dripping line on the outside unit. This is the condensate drain, which plays a key role in removing condensation produced by your air conditioner's evaporator coil. If the line isn’t properly cleaned, algae and debris can build up inside and clog the drain, which can cause the unit to leak water or stop running. There are steps you can take as a homeowner to ensure your condensate drain line stays clean between preventative maintenances.
In the air handler, condensate collects in the bottom of the pan. It drains out the condensate line and to the exterior of the home. Over time, water sets in the condensate pan and algae builds up, causing the initial clog. To keep your drain clear, you want to use something to break up the algae. Some recommend pouring bleach down the drain. Bleach does help, but it is very corrosive. Your copper line runs with the drain through a larger PVC pipe underground and comes up outside. Bleach can collect in the PVC and cause corrosion to the copper lines and the evaporator coil, ultimately leading to a freon leak.
Instead of using bleach, you can use white vinegar. It accomplishes the same thing – kills the algae. Here is a step-by-step guide:
Step 1. Turn off your air conditioner. Turn the system off at the thermostat.
Step 2. Identify the access point on the drain line. Most drain lines will have a T-shaped vent tee with a cover or cap. Remove the cap at the top of the drain and inspect for blockage.
Step 3. Flush with white vinegar. Add 1-2 cups of white vinegar to the drain line through the opening where the cap was removed. It’s recommended you use regular distilled white vinegar, as the increased acidity boosts its cleaning properties.
Step 4. Let the solution sit for 30 minutes. Flush the pipe out with warm water to ensure everything is flowing freely and operating as it should. Then, turn the system back on.
Step 5. Repeat each month. Kill any harmful bacteria or buildup and make sure your system continues to operate at peak performance by cleaning your drain line every 30 days.
Alternatively, you can use a Shop Vac to remove algae build up. First, locate the PVC pipe near your outdoor unit that is attached to the wall of your house. Then, attach the suction hose to the drain line and turn on the shop vac. Keep the vacuum running until water flows freely into the collection canister. Make sure to take a garden house to refill the drain with water.
Routine maintenance steps like checking your drain line can help keep your air conditioner running more efficiently. Call us at Coast Air & Heat to learn more about our maintenance program.